While there wasn?t much action in the state legislature on the energy front this year, Governor Gray Davis signed, or is set to sign, several renewables bills. Those include requiring private utilities to offer net metering to fuel cell generators, creating production incentives for waste-to-energy producers, and allowing private utilities to sign out-of-state green power contracts to help meet renewables level requirements. ?It helps the whole fuel cell movement,? said Dan Jacobson, California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) lobbyist, of AB 1214. Sponsored by CalPIRG and authored by Assemblymember Marco Firebaugh (D-Los Angeles), the bill requires investor-owned utilities to offer net metering for up to 5 MW of fuel cell energy in their territories. Fuel cell generation, which converts natural gas and other fuel sources to energy via an electrochemical reaction, is currently eligible for a $4.50\/watt subsidy from the California Public Utilities Commission. Another bill signed into law was SB 704 by Senator Dean Florez (D-Schaffer). It allocates $6 million from the California Energy Commission?s Renewable Resource Trust Fund to curb biomass generators? costs by offering $10\/ton for burnable farm material. The bill rekindles a Trade and Commerce Agency program that provided funding to biomass generators that would otherwise have their agricultural waste fodder burned?creating air pollution and wasting a fuel source. The goal of the previous and current incentives is to improve air quality and help cover the cost of tree pruning. The former program was funded through fiscal year 2001-02, but the money was cut during the 2002-03 state budget battle. Two bills, one that was enacted and the other that sat on the governor?s desk at press time, set criteria for out-of-state renewables suppliers to qualify for the renewables portfolio standard (RPS) program passed last year. Unduly restricting renewables generators outside of California from participating in the state?s RPS program, which requires investor-owned utilities to boost their use of green power to 20 percent of their energy needs by 2017, could violate the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The RPS law, SB 1038, limited out-of-state renewables generators to those hooked up to the Western grid near the California border, with their first point of interconnection in-state. SB 183 by State Senator Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto), which became law this month, set criteria for non-native generators to qualify for payments that exceed the CPUC-approved market price for renewable megawatts. It not only sets RPS eligibility requirements for out-of-state renewables producers to receive what are known as supplemental energy payments, but also requires the CEC to publish each year the amount of public-goods money available for emerging renewables projects. The pot now contains about $150 million. Senator Debra Bowen?s (D-Redondo Beach) SB 67, which is expected to be signed, specifies that out-of-state green power producers must deliver power to customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric. More significantly, the measure would also allow investor-owned utilities to sign green energy deals without being deemed investment grade, if signed before October 13?Davis?s last day to autograph bills. Also enacted was AB 1735, requiring the CPUC to decide rate-setting cases and quasi-legislative matters within a year and a half, unless the CPUC can justify the need for an extension. The bill by the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee also requires the CPUC president to deliver a report to lawmakers on the commission?s track record on hearing days and decision making.